Two days ago, they pulled out the chain-link fence separating their backyards. They chopped down shrubs and brush to make room. Then they built a ramp to shoot off what some neighbors are describing as a July 4 barrage that brought shock and awe to a North Toledo neighborhood.
Residents of homes at 51 and 55 East Pearl Street hosted a fireworks extravaganza that lasted from dusk until dawn, littering lawns, rooftops, porches, garbage cans, flower beds, and car hoods with shredded paper shells for almost a full city block downwind of the display.
City officials, police, and neighboring residents and businesses were not amused.
"It was a war zone - shaking my house from sunset to sunrise. It sounded like mortar fire," said neighbor Roy Jenkins, 44, who spent the morning cleaning the back alley adjacent to the display.
"That's an awful lot of money to mess up a lot of stuff," he added, looking at the three-foot piles of spent fireworks littering the backyard of 55 East Pearl, identified by neighbors as center stage of the pyrotechnics.
In the morning light, all that was left was a backyard that looked like it had launched a spaceship, a pair of burned-out propane torches, and piles and piles of spent fireworks.
"We're helping to clean up," said neighbor Keith Horton, 15, sifting through the boxes and shells with his bare hands and shoes, looking for any that might not have gone off.
Residents at both houses refused to answer their doors for comment yesterday morning.
"They were trying to compete with the city show," said Kevin Godsey, owner of the Autopro garage on Lagrange Street. "It's ridiculous the damage they caused. That's not going to come out," he added, pointing at the dozens of gunpowder burns on one of the 15 cars left out in his back lot, four doors down from the display. "This customer's going to lose their mind when they see it."
Jimmy Gaines, acting director of the Toledo Department of Public Service, said the display's aftermath was the worst he has ever seen.
"My goodness gracious - I've never seen this kind of blatant disrespect for the law," said Mr. Gaines, who drove out to snap pictures of the wreckage yesterday morning. "They jeopardized the people in all these houses. People involved could have been killed."
Mr. Gaines said he will get together with the city's refuse and nuisance abatement department before his department decides what to recommend regarding the incident.
"We were up all night," said Cindy Kortze, 48, a neighbor who called police twice to report the display.
"The same thing happened five years ago," added her husband, Randy Kortze. "It got so bad they set phone wires on fire."
Toledo police are still investigating the event, which could lead to citations for noise and illegal dumping.
The house at 55 East Pearl is owned by Olivia Mata of Toledo. Neighbors say her son, David Mata, lives in the house with several other young men.
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